24 Hour Layover in Taipei, Taiwan
Flying Eva Air or China Airlines to Asia? Want an awesome guide to make the most of your trip or do what Anthony Bourdain does in Taipei on his show The Layover?
I recently spent 24 hours in Tapei, Taiwan for a layover from Bali to New York on purpose. I will explain why it's a good idea below as well as how to make the most of it.
So without further ado, here is your 24 hour layover guide packed with travel tips, tricks, and a full potential itinerary for a kick-ass 24 hours in Taiwan!
Step 1: Book Your Flight
Both China Airlines and Eva Air offer great flights from the USA to places like Bali connecting through Taipei.
Having a 24 hour layover breaks up the long trip, allows you to get a good night of sleep in a hotel room, and your flight can be much less expensive if you have a 24 hour layover.
Plus, you get to do some adventuring in a place you should definitely see but likely wouldn't go out of your way for.
Bonus: If you want more #travelhacks like this, check out my article on Travel Hacking and How to Find Cheap Flights.
Step 2: Book Your Hotel
For a quick layover, I suggest booking an airport hotel or something downtown for convenience purposes. Anything longer than that, I suggesting booking an Airbnb or local accommodation to get a better cultural experience.
Expect to pay $100-$150 for a nice hotel room in Taipei. I’ve stayed at Novotel and the Monarch Skyline. I preferred my stay at Novotel because it was close to the airport and there was a free shuttle. I didn’t have to worry about finding a taxi, speaking Chinese, or having cash.
Step 3: Head to the Shilin Night Market
Taiwan is a safe country, but it’ll be best to drop your bags at the hotel and lock up your valuables.
The Shilin Night Market is world-famous and remarkable. Also, if you watch Anthony Bourdain's show, it's what is featured.
Food is arguably Taipei’s biggest attraction here, so take advantage!
Step 4: Get a good night sleep and wake up early
Novotel had a great 24 hour buffet, so breakfast was ready at 5:30 am. I never mind waking up early to see a new country.
I figure I’ll sleep better on the plane back to the United States...especially if I’m more active throughout the day.
Step 5: Hire a driver for the day or take public transport
I’ve done this stopover using both public transportation and a private driver and both were a success. Taipei is clean and organized, so the public bus system worked great. I was with a friend who spoke Mandarin, which of course made this much easier to make our way to the Taipei 101 using public transportation.
My second time in Taiwan, I decided to head to the mountains. When you stand atop the second tallest building in the world you can’t help but notice you are staring at lush, green mountains, just outside the city. Nature was calling.
Through Novotel I hired a driver to bring me to Yangmingshan National Park using their corporate rate. A four hour trip cost me the equivalent of $90 USD payable with Visa or AMEX inside the taxi. Michael spoke a few words of English and the concierge explained to him where I’d like to go.
The concierge was nice enough to grant me a late checkout so I could come back and shower after my adventure.
Step 6: Start Hiking
Thanks to Ink+ Adventure travel blog, I found a really helpful guide to hiking in Yangmingshan National Park and decided to hike Taiwan’s tallest mountain, Mount Qixing on my layover. You can find an English Map of the park here.
This is where I got my ass kicked.
Ink + Adventure said my route up Mount Qixing would take 3 hours. Of course, thinking of myself in superior physical shape than your everyday travel blogger, I thought it’d be no problem to run up the 2.4 kms and then come back.
Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t been doing my cardio during my trip to Bali and this hike was basically a 2.4km stair climb. The 85*+ heat and humidity really had me sucking wind. Most of the Taiwanese hikers came equipped with umbrellas, walking sticks, and camelbacks…
But was it worth it?
YES! Getting to the top of a mountain always is.
I got up and down in just two hours and my driver was waiting at the bottom. The park is about an hour from the airport and just 15 minutes from the city of Taipei, very close to the Shilin District where the night market is.
Step 7: Get the best dumplings in the world.
Better than the view of Taipei is the world famous dumpling restaurant at the bottom of the Taipei 101. Be prepared for a wait and put your name in at Din Tai Fung.
Note: if you are looking for an off the beaten path dumpling spot, this is not it. There is a Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles, but I’ve heard from several people the dumplings at the one in Taipei are the best in the world.
Then go explore the massive Asian shopping mall, complete with every designer brand a South East Asian tourist could ever want.
Step 8: Head up the Observatory at Taipei 101
After dumplings it’s time to head to the top 89th floor and check out the 360 degree view of Taiwan. If the sky is clear, you should be able to see the mountain you just climbed. The ride up the Taipei 101 is an incredibly fast 37 seconds. But don’t feel too bad-- you are only one third as high as you were when you climbed Taiwan’s tallest peak.
You could have easily taken the stairs!
It’s fascinating how the Taipei 101 was built to withstand earthquakes and how there was really no apparent practical reason to construct a building this tall in a city that has very few skyscrapers to begin with. Like the Burj Khalifa, it was definitely built as a tourist attraction.
Bonus Tip: Dubai is another awesome 24 hour stopover city and flying Emirates Air is an impressive experience.
Step 9: Back to the hotel and airport
Time to shower up and get back to Taoyuan International Airport. I exchanged money at the hotel and they gave me a pretty good rate when I bought New Taiwanese Dollars. They wouldn’t sell me back US Dollars at the end of my trip, so I’m sure I lost a few bucks exchanging back to USD at the airport… Oh well, that’s the price of seeing somewhere cool!
Bonus Step: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
If time allows see the changing of the guard at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall that commemorates the former President of the People’s Republic of China. Wait… China? Yes, the People’s Republic of China or ROC is the official name of Taiwan and was ruled by both China and Japan at different times during the twentieth century.
Check out my Snapchat @Under30X for my 24 hour layover and don’t forget to follow Under30Experiences on Snapchat!